Mysterious Photo from Irene’s Basement

Irene has no idea who these people are but it is certainly an interesting couple. Mother and son? Husband and wife? We haven’t had much luck with figuring this out. Irene is certain they can’t be Georges because – well – to be frank, they’re just not good-looking enough to be Georges (that’s what Irene said and I’m sticking with it!) Iacobuccis maybe? Or perhaps someone from Irene’s mother’s side of the family -Giampaolos maybe? The fact that they were in Irene’s possession suggests there must be some family connection.

I will be at the National Genealogical Conference Annual Conference later this week in Raleigh, NC and I just might spring for the $20 fee to get a consult with the Photo Detective during the conference. It would help to get any information or ideas from people reading this blog before I go so don’t be shy about adding your comments.

Thanks!

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Nick George -Where’d They Go Wednesday

Each of the four Giorgio brothers except Ciro had a son named Nick. (Although it is possible that Ciro’s first son was named Nick, but he did not live to be an adult.) ,For today’s post I’ll provide a bit of information on four of them and help sort them out.

Thankfully, an important piece of advice that I got from Terry Colaluca when I began researching the George family in New Castle, PA was not to confuse the Italian George’s with the Syrian Georges. That was a big time saver for me because it is easy to get them mixed up especially in reviewing newspaper articles. They also tended to have children about the same ages and often with the same names. (I think there is also a Greek George family – to make things more complicated!)

From oldest to youngest, the Nicks are Nicholas Vitus George (1896-1974) son of Adriano and his first wife Marianne Frattura; Nick Anthony George (1907 -???? ) son of Romualdo and Dorinda George; Nicolino George (1916 – 1992) son of Pasquale and his second wife, Filomena and Nicholas Frederick George (1928- 2002) son of Nick Vito George and his wife Mary.

Nick George #1

Nicholas Vitus George was born in Castel di Sangro Italy in 1896 to Adriano’s first wife Marianne Frattura. His mother died the week after he was born and his father, Adriano, immigrated to America,  married Custode Iacobucci on February 14, 1899, and began his new family. In 1904, Adriano returned to Italy and brought his son Nick to Dunbar, PA. All of the children born to Adriano and his second wife Custode Iacobucci considered Nick their brother.

Nick’s youngest daughter, Irene Veri, is able to provide first hand accounts of her father as have many of her cousins. Uncle Nick is universally described as fun-loving, happy and jovial. He loved to sing and his wife Mary was a wonderful cook.  It is clear that visits to Nick and Mary’s home on East Lutton Street in New Castle created a store of happy memories for many Giorgio descendants.

Nick loved to sing, made wine in his basement (which he shared liberally with his guests regardless of their ages) and was active in church and community affairs. He never had a car and either walked or got a ride with someone when he needed to go somewhere.

Here’s one of Irene’s early memories of her father:

“My earliest remembrance of my father was when I was about 4 or 5 years old . . . he was working at the Irwin Works in Irwin, PA . . . a cousin of mine, also with the name of Nick George, his mother was Dorinda, also worked at the Irwin Works. He picked my father up and off they went. Since it was too far to commute back and forth in one day, they left early Monday morning and came back late on Friday. I remember standing on the couch looking out the window on Fridays waiting for him to come home. He always brought me a surprise and I greeted him with a big hug and kiss.”

And here’s a newspaper article and picture of her father from the New Castle News in December 1956 when the Sons of Italy began construction of a new lodge. Nick George is on the left holding his hat in his hand.Nick.SonsofItaly.bldg.1956.NCN

Irene can fill us in on whether or not her father ever made a trip back to Italy. I think he was planning one some time in the late 1940s or early 1950s when he got word of his father’s death but as far as I know he never visited his homeland but one of his sons did.

Nick George #2

The next Nick George, Nick Anthony George, was born to Romualdo and Dorinda George in 1907, three years after his parents arrived New Castle from Italy. His delayed birth certificate is copied below and includes his parents’ names and their birthplace. NickAnthonyGeorge.Delayed birthcert.1907Many of the articles in the New Castle News from the 1920s and 1930s mention Nick George as a wrestler and as the coach of the YMCA wrestling team. Nick was state champion in his weight class for several years. His younger brother John was also a  wrestler. Many of the 478 “hits” that I got when I searched the New Castle News were for this Nick George. In this picture from the March 31, 1934 edition, Nick is seated on the front row, far right and his brother John is beside him. Handsome guys – I would love to see a picture of their father Romualdo. Interestingly – they seem to bear the classic male George – non-smile.

Nick&JohnnyGeorge.1934

Another interesting tidbit about this Nick George is that in 1942 he married a girl named Rose Colaluca, creating a second Giorgio/Colaluca connection. (The first occurred when Pasquale’s oldest daughter, Mary George, married Romeo Colaluca in 1928.)Nick

Nick’s younger brother John George was one of the first servicemen from New Castle, PA to die in World War II. You can read more about him here.

Nick George #3

Nicolino, Pasquale’s son, was born in 1916. Apparently he travelled to Italy with his father and brother Louis because the ship’s log from July 1925 shows them returning to America. It also gives his date of birth as August 1, 1916. I wonder if Pasquale returned to Italy in hopes of finding a new bride? It seems that is what he did after his first wife died in childbirth in 1914 only to have tragedy strike again in 1920 when his second wife died less than a week after giving birth to her fifth child in as many years.

Nicola.shiplog.22Jul1925

In the 1930 Census Nick was living in the home with his father Pasquale, his half-sister Vida and two brothers, Victor  and Louis but by 1935 he was institutionalized at the Polk State School for the Feeble Minded. I know that institutions bring up a host of horror stories but during the Depression it was very difficult for people to take care of their families, particularly if one of the children was a special needs child. According to Terry Colaluca, although Nick was institutionalized for most of his adult life, his intellectual disability was not severe enough that he would be institutionalized today. Pasquale’s grandson Patsy George, visited his uncle Nick George on a regular basis. I have noted that Nick lived until 1992 but I don’t have a source for that date.

Nick George #4

In the next generation we find Nicolas Frederick George, the last of four sons born to Nick and Mary George. He was born in New Castle on March 7, 1927 and died on August 6, 2002. Terry remembers that a Nick George owned a small printing company in New Castle and I’m pretty sure that is our Nick because I saw some ads in the New Castle News for his printing company. This would make Nick the third of Nick and Mary’s sons to work in the newspaper business. Two older brothers, Frank and Anthony, moved to San Leandro, California and worked in the newspaper business out there.

NickJr.classified manager.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Custode Iacobucci George

I continued to be surprised at how many people are into genealogy and the number of creative and informative blogs available for people trying to capture their family history.  This post is in response to an idea posted on a blog entitled “No Story Too Small” that encourages other bloggers to post a story each week about an ancestor. In my case it might only be 37 ancestors since I’m not starting until April 21st but that’s still a good start.

Custode Iacobucci, my husband’s great grandmother, seems like a good person to start with. She was born in Italy on May 27, 1880 and immigrated to western Pennsylvania in 1886 or 1887. She lived in Pittsburgh with a guardian named Vincenzo Iacobucci, but exactly what relation she was to him is unclear. He signed the consent to marriage form when she married Adriano Giorgio on February 14, 1899 and identified her as his ward. My guess is that he was her uncle or older brother.

Wedding Photo 1899

Wedding Photo 1899

Sometime before December 1901, Custode and Adrian moved to Dunbar PA with their young son Frederick William George, where their second son, Luigino Anthony George, “Gene” was born on December 19, 1901. They had six more children and all but one of them, Lucia Lydia, lived to adulthood. Lydia died of scarlet fever in 1916 when she was 7 years old and is buried in the St. Aloysius church cemetery in Dunbar.

After the 1910 US Census when Adrian was listed as head of household in Dunbar with Custode, their children and Custode’s sister Rose Buzzella, Adrian, who sometimes went by Andy, disappeared. Custode George shows up in Dunbar in the 1920, 1930 and 1940 US Census reports but Adrian is not on the list. To make it more complicated, in the 1920 and 1940 Census Reports, Custode is identified as widowed, but in the 1930 census she is listed as married.

In May 2013, my husband found a third cousin when he had his DNA tested (her great grandfather was Adrian’s brother, Pasquale). We visited her in July 2013 and met other relatives, including one of Custode’s granddaughters who remembers visiting her in Dunbar although she knew her as Christine. We knew we were on the right track but there were still so many mysteries.

The last stop on our week-long ancestry trip to western PA was the courthouse in Uniontown, county seat for Fayette County, the county where Dunbar is located. Since two of Custode’s and Adrian’s daughters lived to adulthood and married, we were able to find their marriage licenses and that was how we finally discovered Custode’s maiden name – Iacobucci. All references to Custode before these used the last name of George. We also found Custode’s will, which provided information about the property she owned and the names of her children. The will was made in 1966, just one year before she died.

Perhaps the most interesting find was the record of a 1912 lawsuit that Custode brought against Adrian in an effort to keep their house after he abandoned her. Adrian and Custode ran a grocery/general store in Dunbar. They also owned property, one piece in her name, one piece in his name and one piece in both their names. According to Custode’s testimony, in February 1912 Adrian forced her to sign over her interest in the properties to him so that he was the sole owner. He threatened to kill her if she refused. In May 1912, Adrian left Dunbar and went to New Castle, PA where his brother Pasquale lived. The court in New Castle entered a judgment note in favor of Pasquale to collect $3,000 that Adrian “owed” him. (Coincidentally the value of the three properties just happened to be $3,000.) The court issued an order to the sheriff in Fayette County to force the sale of Adrian’s properties to satisfy the note. This would have forced Custode and her children out of their home but Custode brought a law suit to stop the forced sale. She claimed the note that Adrian issued Pasquale was fraudulent. Although she lost the case on a technical point (the court in one county doesn’t have the right to second guess another court’s decision) she got some help from an unexpected source when Adrian filed for bankruptcy.

In the bankruptcy action, Adrian’s creditors tried to foreclose on the properties he owned in Dunbar. Since this action was in the county where Custode lived she was finally able to have her day in court and got to keep two of the three properties. As far as the records go, Adrian never returned to Dunbar. Family stories suggest that he may have gone to Argentina and started a new family there. Other accounts indicate that he returned to Italy and died there around 1950. Custode stayed in Dunbar and provides a good example of what one determined woman can accomplish when she’s willing to fight for what is rightfully hers.

And so begins the past …

Adriano Giorgio was born in San Vito Chietino, Chieti, Abruzzo Italy on 27 November 1871. He first came to Western PA in sometime around 1897, leaving behind a young son – Nicola – born to him and his first wife Marianna Frattura. Marianna Frattura was from Castel di Sangro, L’Aquilo, Abruzzo Italy. Marianna died a week after Nicola Giorgio was born in the fall of 1896. Baby Nick stayed in Italy while Adriano sought his new life in America. Adriano later brought Nick to the US in 1904. Passenger logs show the two of them arriving in New York on the ship named the “Roma” on 19 December 1904. The 1910 Census shows Nick, age 14, living in Dunbar with Custode and Adriano.

Soon after arriving in Western PA, Adriano met Custode Iacobucci who was born in Italy on 27 May 1880. We’re still searching for exactly where in Italy she was born (we suspect Castel di Sangro) or whether she and Adriano knew each other in Italy or met once they were both in western PA. We do know they married on 13 February 1899 in Pittsburgh.

A word about names. Accept the fact that it is going to get confusing. Italian convention is for the first-born son to be named after his father’s father. Adriano and Marianna followed this convention in naming Nicola after Adriano’s father – Nicola Nunziato Sabio Giorgio. Adding to the confusion for finding someone in a later generation is the fact that if four brothers all name their first son after their father, you’ve got four cousins with the same first and last name.

As if that didn’t make things complicated enough, we’re also dealing with the Americanized version of Italian names. So Adriano becomes Adrian or sometimes even Andy. Custode (which is a name I’ve loved ever since I came across it because it means someone who takes care of others) was never known by that name to her own grandchildren who thought her name was Christine. Just accept that it’s going to get confusing.

Many thanks to Lynnette George Burnett, who has graciously shared her grandparents’ wedding photo. Lynnette is the half sister of Rick’s father Fred. So in finding our past it looks like we’ve found part of our future – an aunt we never knew we had. We think aunts are awesome!